The line up for the light was long, we knew it would change over several times before we could make our turn.
There was a man, hat out, walking the line of cars, asking for money.
I had no change at all and was out of Tims cards, which I usually give out to people who ask for cash, as I made a mental list to pick up some more, Joe was digging in his pockets to find what change he had. When the fellow arrived at our car, Joe said, “This is all the change I’ve got, sorry it isn’t more.
“He took the change and said, “Listen, man, you don’t owe me anything, I’m grateful for anything you give.”
Joe laughed, as he does, and wished the man a good day.
He didn’t leave. He smiled and said, pointing to the line up of cars behind us.
“These people in these cars, they don’t owe me anything either,’ then he paused, ‘but you know what I wish they understood?” He paused again, “I wish they understood that anyone of them could end up where I am today, I wish they understood that even if they don’t want to give me money, they could still give me respect.
I hate it when people act as if I’m not there, or as if just looking at me would make them dirty, if they don’t want to give me money, say no, I’m good with that. Just don’t make it like I don’t exist.”
I spoke next, “I use a wheelchair and it’s the same, people either stare at me or they pretend I don’t exist. It’s one of the other. I get just wanting respect. I really do.”
He thanked us again, “For the change and for a moment’s break from being just a beggar.’
I understood what he meant.
Everyone who lives with difference does.